SPOILERS for The X-Files below!
Darin Morgan’s latest episode of The X-Files, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” is a surreal dive into the psyche of 2018 America and a thoughtfully absurd deconstruction of the very concept of truth, belief, memory, and The X-Files itself. Among so many hilarious and bizarre moments, one that stands out is a prolonged flashback scene to many of The X-Files‘ greatest hits.
The mysterious guest character, Reggie “Somebody,” played by Brian Huskey, claims to have been a victim (or perhaps everybody else is) of The Mandela Effect, which has altered collective memories of past events. He even claims to have created The X-Files in an effort to get to the truth behind the USA’s invasion of Grenada, which he posits was part of an alien cover-up.
To illustrate this lore-breaking “revelation,” the show plays an altered version of the classic X-Files opening theme, only with the character names (Fox Mulder and Dana Scully) instead of their actors, followed by a title for “Reggie Somebody.” The episode then breaks into a wild montage of classic X-Files moments, only with Reggie added in, usually via fancy computer effects, reminiscent of when the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine interacted with the cast of the original series in the episode, ‘Trials and Tribble-Ations.’
Here are all of the episodes referenced in that crazy scene.
Unusual Suspects: The first clip shown in the extended flashback sequence is a peculiar one since it doesn’t actually edit any footage from the original episode. Set in 1989, ‘Unusual Suspects’ is a prequel episode which explores the origins of The Lone Gunmen and how they first met Agent Mulder. In the episode, Mulder gets a call on his oversized 1980s cell phone and says, “Hey Reggie, what’s up?” At the time, this was a reference to Reggie Purdue, Mulder’s old FBI partner (as seen in the Season 1 episode, “Young at Heart”), but now it’s changed to the Reggie from this episode, who giddily informs Mulder that he bought a new decoration for their office, offering a dubious origin to the famous “I Want to Believe” poster.
Pilot: Next, the montage segues to Scully’s first meeting with Mulder, from the first-ever episode of The X-Files. She knocks on the door and is greeted by Mulder, and then the camera cuts to Reggie, filing papers in the corner of the office, and is dismissive of the young female agent, saying, “Move along, sugar boobs. This is the X-Files; no women allowed.”
Tooms: This season one episode guest-starred Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone) as the vicious serial killer, Eugene Victor Tooms. To this day, his role as the extremely flexible murderer is fondly remembered as one of The X-Files‘ most disturbing creatures. As Tooms walks by Mulder and Scully, having just secured his release from the mental hospital, Reggie – digitally superimposed into the scene – astutely remarks, “That guy is so creepy.”
Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose: Although Darin Morgan had written for The X-Files before, this season three episode was the one which really put his name on the map, and won him an Emmy for his excellent writing prowess. Actor Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond) also won a coveted award for his guest-starring role in the episode. In the montage, Boyle is delivering one of his famous monologues, musing about the impossibly complex implications of predestination, free will, and even time travel, briefly mentioning the possibility of undoing the US’s invasion of Grenada… At which point Reggie interrupts him, saying, “Wait… What’s this about Grenada?”
Teso Dos Bichos: Unlike most of the episodes featured in the montage, “Teso Dos Bichos” is not a nostalgic classic, but is instead remembered as one of the weakest episodes of the show’s early seasons. The episode has a strong start but loses all momentum during its underwhelming ending, in which Mulder and Scully are attacked by a stampede of adorable cats. In a nod to fan disapproval over that particular choice, Reggie stands next to the agents and remarks, “Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I’m going to be very disappointed.”
Home: One of the scariest X-Files ever, season four’s ‘Home’ doesn’t actually deal with aliens or monsters, but a family of inbred killer creeps, deformed to the point of being mutants. In the episode, Mulder and Scully find the woman of the house, strapped to a board and hidden under the bed, and conclude that she’s the mother of the boys, but also their sister. Reggie is confused, and asks, “Wait, if she’s their mother, how can she be their…?” The realization strikes him, and he can only sheepishly exclaim, “…Oh boy.”
Small Potatoes: The final episode in the montage is “Small Potatoes,” a season four episode written by Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), the finale of which sees a shape-shifting mutant taking over Mulder’s identity in an attempt to seduce Scully. The two are sitting on a couch and “Mulder” tries to lean in for a kiss but is thwarted when the real Mulder busts down the door. Defeated, the imposter reverts back to his natural state. In this reinterpretation of events, it’s not Mulder, but Reggie who breaks in and saves Scully from the Mulder doppelganger, and when he transforms back to his original form, Reggie promptly executes him with a single gunshot. The joke here is that the mutant is played by none other than Darin Morgan, who wrote and directed “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”
Related: X-Files Season 11 Premiere Review
Obviously, none of this transpired the way Reggie recalls, and Scully proves as much by the end of the episode, deducing that Reggie became obsessed with The X-Files during his time at the NSA, illegally listening to Mulder and Scully’s conversations, and that he concocted a fantasy around being intimately involved with the FBI. Of course, Scully’s airtight case is thrown for a loop when Reggie is being escorted away by Spotnitz Sanitarium staff… Assistant Director Skinner sees the vehicle and asks the agents, “Where the hell are they taking Reggie?”
Indeed, there’s further evidence suggesting that Reggie was actually telling the truth, or at least some form of it; in episode two of this current season, “This“, when Skinner shows the agents the online database of The X-Files, Reggie’s image briefly flashes on the screen, indicating that he did, in fact, work at the FBI, and even within The X-Files.
…Either that, or Mulder and Scully are actually from a different universe and the world of this current iteration of The X-Files is different from the one of the original series.
The X-Files season 11 airs Wednesdays @ 8 pm on FOX.
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